QB Blaine Gabbert re-signs with Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers today re-signed quarterback Blaine Gabbert. 

According to the Tampa Times Rick Stroud, it’s a one-year deal worth $2.5-million. Gabbert backed up Tom Brady last season and is expected to do so again in 2021.

Gabbert, 31, appeared in four games with the Buccaneers last season, completing 9-of-16 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. He was originally signed with Tampa Bay back in 2019 2019 but spent his first season with the Buccaneers on Injured Reserve due to a shoulder injury.

The 11-year veteran, who was a first-round pick (10th overall) of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2011 NFL Draft, spent three seasons with the Jaguars (2011-13) before playing for the San Francisco 49ers (2014-16), Arizona Cardinals (2017) and Tennessee Titans (2018).

Gabbert has appeared in 60 career games, with 48 starts, completing 851-of-1,514 passes for 9,206 yards. He has thrown 50 touchdowns and 47 interceptions for a 72.3 passer rating. 

Bucs add Shipley, Lewis to coaching staff

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers today announced that the team has hired Thaddeus Lewis and A.Q. Shipley to the team’s coaching staff.

Lewis, 33, will take over as the team’s assistant wide receivers coach, replacing Antwaan Randle El, who was named wide receivers coach for the Detroit Lions earlier this offseason. Lewis remains in Tampa Bay after spending the 2020 NFL season as a representative of the Bill Walsh coaching fellow program, during which he worked as an assistant to the offense. Prior to arriving in Tampa Bay, Lewis spent two years as an offensive analyst at UCLA under Chip Kelly from 2018-19.

The Opa-locka, Florida, native was a four-year starter at quarterback for Duke (2006-09), where he set school records for career passing yards (10,065) and passing touchdowns (67) and added nine rushing touchdowns. He also set Duke’s program record for most consecutive pass attempts without an interception at 206. He was a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award – presented to the nation’s top quarterback – in his senior season in 2009. Lewis then went on to spend parts of eight seasons in the NFL (2010-17) with the St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens. He played in seven career games, making six starts, recording 115 completions for 1,296 passing yards and five passing touchdowns, adding one rushing touchdown.

Shipley, 34, is set to begin his coaching career with Tampa Bay as an offensive assistant following his 10-year NFL playing career. He entered the league as a seventh-round selection (No. 226 overall) of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Shipley spent the 2009 season on the Steelers’ practice squad before joining the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad in 2010 and remaining with the Eagles through the 2011 preseason. In 2012, Shipley joined the Indianapolis Colts, appearing in 14 games, with five starts. He was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2013, where he appeared in all 16 games, making nine starts. Shipley then re-joined Indianapolis in 2014, playing in 15 games, with five starts for the Colts. He then spent five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals from 2015-19 before spending his final season with Tampa Bay in 2020, playing in five games, with two starts.

For his career, Shipley played in 110 career regular season games, with 72 starts, and two postseason contests. He played for Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians in Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Arizona and Tampa Bay, covering eight of his years spent in the NFL. The Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, native played collegiately at Penn State.

Eagles’ Gainwell: ‘I’m a rare breed’

For Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell, getting drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round of this year’s draft does a few things for him. It allows him an opportunity to fulfill his dream of playing football and a chance to play with his cousin, Eagles DT Fletcher Cox.

Like Cox, Gainwell is from Yazoo City, Mississippi. According to Gainwell, the people of Yazoo City are happy to see Gainwell and Cox together in Philly.

The city is very excited about me and Fletcher(Cox),” Gainwell said on Saturday. “Man, they just excited about us. They’re excited that we play ball, and now we are playing with each other on the same team, so they are going to be even more excited.”

Gainwell opted out last season due to COVID concerns. In 2019, he put up monster numbers for Memphis, including running for 1459 yards with 13 touchdowns on the ground, and he caught 51 passes for 610 yards with three receiving touchdowns. 

According to Gainwell, he spent a lot of time in the gym during his time away from football. 

“I basically just started training,” he said. “So basically, the next week after I opted out, I started training, and I’ve been working out ever since. It’s been basically six months for me working out straight, non-stop. I’ve just been putting in the work, staying down, staying healthy throughout this process.

While Gainwell wanted and some expected him to be picked higher in the draft, he’s happy to be in Philly.

Yeah, I was surprised,” he said about going later in the draft. “But I’m happy now; I’m happy y’all got me. I’m happy I’m with the Eagles. That really don’t matter. It’s time to work. It’s time to put in the work. Getting drafted first, getting drafted at the fifth, it don’t really matter about all that. I am ready to ball for the Eagles.”

Gainwell does not lack for confidence, and when asked who does he compare himself to in the NFL, he had this to say:

“I’m a rare breed,” he said. “I’m a different one.”

Gainwell has a lot of versatility. As the numbers show, he can do things on the ground and in the passing game.  With his skill set, he should add depth to the Eagles’ running back room in 2021.

Jags’ Etienne: ‘You’d be crazy not to want to play with Trevor Lawrence’

The Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback and running back combination in 2021 may look very familiar to Clemson Tigers fans. After the Jaguars drafted QB Trevor Lawrence with the number one overall pick on Thursday, the team followed that up by taking Clemson RB Travis Etienne with the 25th overall pick.

The two-time ACC player of the year is happy to be in Jacksonville and did not want to be separated from his college quarterback.

 “I knew Trevor was coming here,” Etienne said at his introductory press conference on Friday. “You’d be crazy not to want to play with Trevor Lawrence. I definitely wanted to be with Trevor. I feel as if, like I said earlier, it brings me that sense of normalcy being with him these past three years. I feel like I can’t wait to do great things here.”

According to Etienne, he and Lawrence, who played together for three seasons at Clemson, have developed excellent chemistry.

“We built a lot of chemistry, especially these past two years,” Etienne said. “His freshman year, I wasn’t that much of a receiving threat. His sophomore and junior years, we stayed out after practice and kept working, kept working, kept working. You just see it kind of pays off. You see it on the field now, he’s throwing me darts, things he probably would’ve thrown to me his freshman year, now he has the confidence in me and trust in me, so I’m grateful.”

In four seasons at Clemson, Etienne ran for 4952 yards and 70 rushing touchdowns, and according to Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, Etienne has big-play potential every time he has the ball.

“I saw the violence that he plays with and the speed — speed wins,” Meyer said, “We were a team that really struggled with big-play hits last year and, especially in the NFL, but the opportunity to sustain 10-, 12-, 13-play drives, the percentages say that doesn’t happen, so we need some hits, and we didn’t have it. Travis has got that gift. He’s got that gift of if that guy touches the ball, there’s a chance it’s going, and that’s the biggest thing I looked at.”

While Jacksonville has James Robinson, who rushed for over one thousand yards last season, Etienne, on the surface, appears to be the guy for this team going forward. Robinson is not Meyer’s guy; Etienne is, so we’ll see how that situation plays out.

Eagles’ Smith: ‘I don’t care too much about what people say about my weight’

The Philadelphia Eagles got their man on Thursday night in Cleveland. Philadelphia, who had the 12th pick in this year’s draft, moved up two spots to 10 after a trade(Philly sends 12th pick and a third-round pick in this year’s draft) with their bitter rival, the Dallas Cowboys.

After the deal with Dallas, the Eagles grabbed former Alabama WR and 2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith.

According to Smith, he was surprised that Philadelphia traded up to get him. 

“I was shocked that they had traded up for me,” Smith said on Thursday night. “I was really like, if they traded up for me, then they see something that they like. So I was really excited, and it’s a blessing.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman was happy to get his hands on Smith.

“He was very highly rated on our board, someone who we feel like is not only a great player but a great person, will come in and be ready to roll,” Roseman said. 

Before the draft, much was made about Smith’s stature, mainly his weight. The 6-1 Smith weighed in at 166 pounds at the NFL medical re-check in April, but according to Smith, none of that matters. 

“I don’t care too much about what people say about my weight,” he said. “I understand reporters have a job. It’s their job to make a story. I just let them do their job. I can’t get mad at them for doing their job.”

Smith will be reunited with Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, his college QB at Alabama, which he discussed on Thursday night. 

“And Jalen(Hurts), that’s my guy,” Smith said. “Been with him in my time at Alabama. Even when I was a recruit, he was the guy trying to get me to come to Alabama. That’s my guy. I have a great relationship, and I’m ready to work.”

Clearly, both the Giants and Eagles wanted Smith, but the Eagles did what they had to do to get their man. Give Roseman credit, he dropped down to 12 after the trade with the Dolphins in May and got picks for next season(2022 first and fourth-rounder), and then he moved up to get a guy who many believe is a game-breaking wide receiver in Smith.

Giants’ Gettleman thought deal with Bears ‘too good an opportunity’ to pass up

The Giants waited until they were on the clock Thursday night before executing their most significant draft day trade since they acquired Eli Manning 17 years ago.

They sent their selection at No. 11 in the first round to the Chicago Bears for a package of four picks, including two in the current draft (No. 20 in the first round and No. 164 in the fifth), plus first and fourth-round choices in the 2022 draft. The Giants selected Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney. Chicago moved up to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

“Obviously, it was too good an opportunity (to pass up),” general manager Dave Gettleman said. “It added too much value, and we felt very comfortable with where our board was and we felt comfortable with who would be there, who would be available in that slot. So, we made it. We did it. We added a one and a four next year. Another pick for this year and another pick for next year. We were very pleased we were able to make the play.”

The key component of the trade for the Giants was the Bears’ first-rounder next year.

“It was very important to get the first-round pick next year,” Gettleman said. “As I told you guys (reporters) at my pre-draft presser, there’s a lot of unknowns here with this group (of players in this draft) and plus a lot of kids went back and took advantage of the NCAA giving them an additional year of eligibility. That obviously played into our thinking.”

The trade also enabled the Giants to recoup the fifth-round choice (No. 154) they sent the Jets in 2019 to acquire defensive lineman Leonard Williams. It gives them seven choices in the seven-round draft; one in each of the first five rounds and two in the sixth. They received an extra selection in that round from Arizona in a trade for linebacker Markus Golden. The Giants do not have a seventh-round selection after sending it last year to Denver for cornerback Isaac Yiadom.

For the first time in the eight NFL drafts he has run – five with Carolina and three with the Giants – Gettleman executed a trade to move back…not just in the first round, but in any round.

Gettleman initiated the trade by reaching out to Chicago general manager Ryan Pace.

“What happened was we had called around and … I had spoken to Ryan Pace, and I had heard he was interested in moving up,” Gettleman said. “So, I called him. When I spoke to him, he said, ‘Yes, we’re very interested.’ And then the conversations begin.

“I spoke to Ryan today before the draft and I spoke to him again. He called me again somewhere around the seventh pick, somewhere in there, and then we got on the clock and from there, (assistant general manager) Kevin Abrams took over and finished off the trade.”

It is widely thought the Giants were interested in Alabama wide receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle and cornerbacks Jayce Horn of South Carolina and Patrick Surtain of Alabama. All were selected in the first 10 picks.

Although it was a surprise each of the four players were taken so early, the Giants are always ready for the unexpected in the draft.

“We had really talked this through, me, Joe (Judge), Chris Mara, Tim McDonnell, Kevin Abrams and Mark Koncz, we had all discussed thoroughly, really looked at our board,” Gettleman said of the team’s personnel experts. “We had a lengthy meeting on Monday and we followed it up with another meeting on Wednesday and so we really – we knew what we wanted. We knew where we wanted to go, and we knew at which point we would consider a trade back and that’s where you get the other piece of it where we’re calling teams behind us.

“And then we met again at 6 o’clock tonight to just constantly review and talk it through and it was a great group effort and we all felt very – we all felt very together on the decision. And we made it.”

It was the Giants’ first such move in the opening round since general manager Ernie Accorsi traded with Pittsburgh 15 years ago. The Giants moved from No. 25 to the 32nd and final choice in the round and added third (No. 96) and fourth-round (No. 129) picks. The Steelers took wide Santonio Holmes and the Giants selected Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka to close out the first round. With the later round choices they received from Pittsburgh, the Giants selected linebacker Gerris Wilkinson and offensive lineman Guy Whimper.

Of course, Accorsi executed the franchise-changing trade for Manning on April 24, 2004. After the San Diego Chargers selected him first overall, Manning was traded to the Giants for quarterback Philip Rivers (whom the Giants had taken with the fourth pick), the Giants’ 2004 third-round pick, and 2005 first and fifth-round selections.

Via: Michael Eisen/giants.com

Lawrence on going to Jacksonville : ‘I think it’s a great fit’

When the Jacksonville Jaguars secured the number one over pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, there was no doubt that former Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence would be their guy, and on Thursday night in Cleveland, it became official. The Jaguars selected Lawrence with the number one overall pick. 

Jacksonville has been searching for a franchise quarterback, and now it appears they have found one in Lawrence. 

 “I couldn’t be more excited; I think it’s a great fit,” Lawrence said via a video conference. “This is going to be a really fun year, and just know that once I get there, all my focus, all my attention is to making us the best we can be, so thank you, guys.”

Lawrence, who never lost a regular-season game and won a national title at Clemson, is also excited to get working with Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, who also hopes to have a successful transition from college to the NFL. 

“First of all, with Coach Meyer, I got a great feel from just talking to him on the phone, and obviously, I’m excited to get down there and be in person with the guys and coaches and all that,” Lawrence said. “The biggest thing is that he’s a winner; you’ve seen he’s done that his whole career, so I’m really excited to be a part of that.”

At this point, it appears Lawrence could be the starter for Jacksonville in Week 1. When asked if he expects to be the Week 1 starter, Lawrence said the following:

“My mindset always going in is that I’m going to earn everything that I get, so coming in, I don’t have any expectations from anyone else other than myself,’ he said. “I expect to perform well and to adjust quickly, and be ready to go, and that’s something I expect a lot out of myself, so that’s where I’m at mentally. From there, like I said, it’s just about earning – I think the biggest thing is – the respect and trust of your teammates. Without that, it doesn’t really matter what you expect going in; you’ve got to earn that first. I’m just going to take it step by step, but like I said, I’m going to do everything in my power to prepare, to be the best I can be, and put us in the best chance to win.”

There is hope in Jacksonville with Lawrence in the mix, and if he’s who many think he could be, the Jaguars should have success like they never had before for years to come.

Report: Tebow works out with Jags as tight end

Tim Tebow might not be finished with the NFL after all. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Tebow worked out for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but not at the quarterback spot.

Tebow reportedly worked out at the tight end position. The 33-year-old Tebow requested the tryout and worked out for team’s tight ends coach, according to the report.  Tebow, who won the Heisman Trophy with current Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer at Florida, played three seasons in the NFL, including leading the Broncos to a victory in the playoffs back in 2011.

After playing for the Jets in 2012, Tebow tried to catch on with the Eagles and Patriots, but both times he was cut by both teams before the start of the season. Tebow tried his hand at baseball and spent three seasons(2016-19) in the Mets’ minor league system before retiring in 2020.

Maybe Meyer is trying to do Tebow a favor, or perhaps he believes Tebow can effectively transition to tight end. There has always been talk that Tebow could have stayed in the league if he transitioned to another position, so maybe the time is now.

We’ll see how it plays out, but it would be nice to see Tebow get another shot in the NFL.

 

Bucs exercise fifth-year option on Vita Vea

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have exercised the fifth-year contract option on defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team announced on Monday.

Vea, who was the 12th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, contract will run through the 2022 season. According to spotrac.com, he will have a base salary of $2.5 million in 2021 and a base salary of $7.6 million in 2022. 

In his first three seasons, the 26-year-old Vea has started 29-of-34 regular-season games played, recording 73 tackles (11 for loss), 19 quarterback hits, 7.5 sacks, and three passes defensed.

After missing 11 games in 2020 due ankle injury, Vea appeared in both the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl for Tampa Bay.

With Vea starting 21 games up front from 2019-20, the Buccaneers became the first defense since the Minnesota Vikings (2006-08) to lead the NFL in rushing yards allowed in back-to-back seasons. Since 2019 Tampa Bay has allowed 77.2 rushing yards per game and 3.43 yards per rush – both marks rank first in the NFL during that span.

Eagles’ Sirianni: ‘We’re going to have competition at every position’

When the Philadelphia Eagles traded QB Carson Wentz to the the Indianapolis Colts, the thought was that Jalen Hurts would be the team’s starting quarterback in 2021. The former second-round pick started four games for the Eagles in 2020 as a rookie and went 1-3.

Hurts threw for 1061 yards with six touchdown and four interceptions last season.

Today, Eagles GM Howie Roseman, head coach Nick Sirianni, and vice president of player personnel Andy Weiland met the media. Sirianni was asked if Hurts would be the team’s starting quarterback this season.

Here is what he had to say:

“To name any starters at this particular time, we’ve been working with these guys for two days, right? We’ve been working with these guys for two days,” Sirianni said. “My biggest thing is competition. Again, we’ve talked a little bit about my core values. It’s my second core value. It’s this team’s second core value. Competition is a huge thing.

We’re going to have competition at every position.”

Hurts, 22 showed flashes in the four games he started, and on the surface, the Eagles were confident enough in Hurts that they willing to move Wentz. Also, you don’t waste a second-round pick on a quarterback if you don’t believe he can eventually be a starter.

Philadelphia signed 36-year-old quarterback Joe Flacco this offseason, and Flacco made it clear that he was looking to compete for the starting job.

By not declaring Hurts the starter, maybe this is a way for the Eagles to motivate him, perhaps they’re looking to draft a quarterback with the 12th pick in this year’s draft, or maybe there will be an actual quarterback competition. Who knows.

However, when it’s all said and done, expect Hurts to be under center for the Eagles in Week 1.